Manual labour or desk job: which is worse for health?

Both have a significant downside, research shows

Despite much evidence that lots of physical activity bodes well for long-term health, when it's physical labour on the job, the opposite might be true.

Researchers have found that labourers are 18% more likely to die prematurely than desk workers.

The analysis looked at data from 17 previous studies examining the link between longevity and activity levels at work, including 193,696 adults followed for an average of almost 20 years. 

"We've known for a while already that physically demanding work can be bad for you," says lead study author Dr Pieter Coenen (PhD), an occupational health researcher at VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam. 

But the idea that it might send people to an early grave is relatively new, he adds.

While the study wasn't a controlled experiment designed to prove how activity levels at work might directly affect longevity, the results suggest there's